The prominence of English lyrics in K-pop has grown considerably, with girl groups leading the trend.
The prominence of English lyrics in K-pop has grown considerably, with girl groups leading the trend. In the first half of this year, English lyrics accounted for 41.3% of girl group songs in the top 400 digital charts, up 18.9% from 2018. Among girl groups, (G)I-DLE had the highest share of English lyrics at 53.6%, followed by LE SSERAFIM at 50.6%, BLACKPINK at 50%, ENHYPEN at 49.3%, and NewJeans at 48.4%. On the other hand, IVE had a lower proportion of English lyrics at 24.9%. Common English words like “I,” “You,” “Like,” and “Love” were prominently used in these lyrics. The rise in English lyrics can be attributed to the global expansion of girl groups’ fanbases and K-pop’s growing international presence, particularly after BLACKPINK’s global success. In contrast, boy groups also increased their use of English lyrics, but the growth rate was comparatively lower. Kim Jin-woo, a senior researcher at Circle Chart, explained that girl groups, aiming to attract both fanbases and international audiences, exhibit a different pattern from the fanbase-centric male idol groups. The research included data from idol music in the top 400 digital charts on Circle Chart, covering 38 girl group songs and 76 boy group songs from the first half of 2018 and 63 girl group songs and 24 boy group songs from the first half of 2023. Songs that are entirely in English were excluded from the analysis. The survey also indicated an increase in the number of people involved in K-pop music production, influenced by the participation of idol group members in songwriting and composition, as well as the activities of international composers in the K-pop market. In the first half of this year, an average of 3.9 lyricists, 4.8 composers, and 2.2 arrangers worked on a single K-pop song, with each category seeing a respective increase of 1, 1.4, and 0.5 people compared to the first half of 2018.